A couple of years ago, long before print media was reeling, a local newspaper announced cuts across the board... It was a free newspaper, so it could be justified that cuts were being made to save money, but what got me was the fact that service cuts and circulation cuts were being dressed by those involved with phrase In order to serve you better...
In order to serve you better, there was going to be less offered by the paper, with a less regular delievery. It wasn't clearly explained to the public as what it was (a cost savings move - foreshadowing the economic turmoil in print journalism that is playing out currently) and was instead spun as an offering to readers. In order to serve you better was trying to say we're doing this for you.
This segues into a story published on Tampabay.com today about Brian Lawton revamping the scouting staff for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Damien Cristordero leads into things with some facts that are hard to dismiss (in fact, I think he understates the problem):
The Lightning's draft history the past 10 years is kind of like one of owner Oren Koules' Saw movies. Cover your eyes if you are squeamish. It is not pretty.
Consider last season's team used six players as regulars from the 96 drafted since 1999. Only one, Steven Stamkos, is an organizational top pick and selected in the past four years.
Compare that to the Canadiens, whose roster last season had 15 drafted players.
Now, I've been musing off and on about the draft here the last several weeks without pointing out the weakness of the draft - in perpetual -- for the Tampa Bay Lightning since their inception. Oh, sure, the draft is not exactly going to pay off each year, but there have been a lot more misses than hits for the Bolts in the draft.
But that's beyond the point, really. The point is that the Lightning have revamped their scouting department in order to serve you better.
Lawton said only four of the 15 full-time scouts he inherited remain: Dave Heitz, Gerry O'Flaherty, Mikael Andersson and Kari Kettunen. He said he cut the number to 12, not to save the financially struggling team money, but to do more with less.
"It's the quality of people over quantity," Lawton said. "I wanted to get a little more movement out of people to get into other (scouting) regions. I wanted more cross-over and a lot more interaction; a little bit tighter group, more meetings as a group and a little bit more video work."
"... not to save the financially struggling team money, but to do more with less." This is where alarms went off. Bells, whistles, thunderstix... All that jazz. The Lightning were cutting staff, were changing around the department to do more with less...
And it wasn't financial?
Why did Cristordero's text and Lawton's quote set off alarms? Because in 2002 and 2003 -- the Tampa Bay Lightning cut their scouting department substantially... And the reasoning why was put straightforward to readers:
Lets start with March 12th, 2002 and how "A few extra bucks really can help":
Some changes already are taking place. General manager Jay Feaster has cut the scouting staff from 24 to 12, which he said will save about $1-million that will be moved into salaries.
How about April 16th, 2002? Cristordero riffs Palace Sports and Entertainment needing to spend more on the Bolts:
Much smarter, it seems, would be to take a few million bucks beyond the $1-million Feaster apparently saved by slashing the scouting budget, and the money to be saved by reducing signing bonuses, and add two or three good, solid players to the players willing to fight for their ice.
And June 21st, 2003, with the NHL draft looming large:
Still, Tampa Bay is in an interesting position. This is the second draft since general manager Jay Feaster cut the scouting budget from $2-million to $1-million and reduced the number of scouts from a league-high 24 (nine full time) to 12 (eight full time).
I'm sorry, what was that remark about the Lightning cutting in the scouting department and it not being financially tied?
Even if I'm critical bringing up this point, the fact is that changes in the way the Lightning operate it's scouting department is a necessity. Things have not worked much in the previous they had been set up. There's too much history of poor drafting and mediocre draft results to stand pat, and Brian Lawton is correct to shuffle the deck.
And naturally, it will be impossible to see how these changes work out until a much later date. That's how scouting and the draft works after all...
But please, please don't paint it as in order to serve us better. Not with history slapping everyone in the face saying just the opposite.